AAI Receives Grant to Expand a Gazetteer of North American Archaeology

April 12, 2016

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded the AAI a National Leadership Grant for a project that will expand the Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA). Under the direction of Eric Kansa, Program Director for Open Context, the AAI joins many partners collaborating on the development of DINAA, a project originally launched with a National Science Foundation grant in 2012 and led by David G. Anderson (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) and Joshua Wells (Indiana University, South Bend).

The two-year IMLS-funded project will expand DINAA’s network of collaborating partners to include tribal archaeology professionals, library professionals, and museums as represented by the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. The grant will focus on documenting the human presence on the North American landscape since the Pleistocene by aggregating archaeological and historical data from governmental authorities that manage heritage resources. DINAA will curate and provide open access to decades of data collection—all resulting from public investment in historical preservation.

DINAA has already integrated and published archaeological site data from 15 states in Open Context, encompassing the rich chronological, cultural, and anthropological metadata used by authorities and researchers alike. Researchers and the public can currently download over 380,000 site file records (with sensitive location, ownership, and other data redacted), free of charge and intellectual property restrictions. With IMLS funding, the awardees will continue to expand DINAA to eventually encompass an estimated two to three million archaeological sites across the United States. In doing so, DINAA will provide researchers, museums, libraries, government offices, stakeholders, and the general public with a powerful gazetteer of all known archaeological sites in the United States, as well as critical infrastructure for indexing widely distributed archaeological and collections databases, and tens of thousands of reports now languishing as nearly inaccessible ‘grey literature’.

A key focus of this project is to make stewardship and understanding of North American cultural heritage more inclusive. A crucial component of the project will consist of collaborating with tribal officials and their representatives across the country. Linked data and improved accessibility based on this consultation will better enable sovereign tribal nations to effectively manage and protect their ancestral cultural heritage, while improving government-to-government relationships between tribal nations, U.S. federal agencies, and associated state or museum entities.

The grant to the DINAA team is one of 20 grants to institutions totaling $6,339,441 under the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program. The program supports “projects that address challenges faced by the library and archive fields and that have the potential to advance library and archival practice with new tools, research findings, models, services, or alliances that can be widely replicated.” In congratulating the award recipients, IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew said these are “forward-thinking and creative projects that recognize some of the most pressing needs of the fields of library, archive, and information science,” and that the “long-term impacts of these IMLS investments will be evident for many years to come.”

imls_logoAbout the IMLS: The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

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